ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

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March 7, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

NATIONAL

INTERNATIONAL 

HEALTH/SCIENCE 

 Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

NATIONAL

Carrier cancellation heats up sequester fight as cuts take effect (The Hill)

March 3, 2013--The Pentagon’s decision to cancel a carrier group’s deployment to the Middle East has become a political flashpoint in the growing fight over how and what the Obama administration is cutting under sequestration.

The move has been criticized by some Republicans and The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward added fuel to the fire by describing the cancellation as “madness.”

But what do the cuts mean for me? A sequester FAQ for the rest of us (Slate) 

March 2, 2013--The long-looming sequester officially went into effect late Friday night, when the White House issued a formal notice to federal agencies to begin slashing their discretionary budgets. It's never been the most exciting story, but beginning at midnight it became a very real one. You've probably got questions. Fortunately, Slate's got answers. We'll try to keep things simple and avoid the wonky weeds when we can.

Goal to cut deficit by $4 trillion in reach (Sacramento Bee)

March 3, 2013--The latest budget impasse ushered in a new round of austerity Saturday, with the nation facing reduced federal services, canceled contracts and job furloughs and layoffs.

But lost in the talk of Washington's dysfunction is this fact: On paper at least, President Barack Obama and Congress have reduced projected deficits by nearly $4 trillion over a decade – the widely embraced goal for stabilizing the national debt.

Sequester puts more cancer patients at risk of dying, researchers say  (Daily Beast) 

March 2, 2013--The growing chorus of pols and pundits who dismiss warnings about the sequestration cuts as fear mongering should talk to cancer researchers. Leaders at several esteemed cancer organizations interviewed for this story all say virtually the same thing: the cuts will have a profoundly negative and long-lasting impact on cancer research and cancer patients.

Why? Because the proposed reductions in nondefense discretionary funding will result in deep slices at the National Cancer Institute (NCI)—whose main responsibility is conducting and funding cancer research. While no one knows just how deep the cuts will be at NCI, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), several sources say they’ll be at least 5 percent. NCI currently is allotted $5 billion of the NIH’s $30.9 billion budget.

Military foreclosure rates raise concerns (U-T San Diego, based on New York Times story) 

March 4, 2013--The issue of banks improperly repossessing homes of U.S. military members may be worse than originally expected, based on a New York Times report published on Sunday.

The Times said four major banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — wrongfully seized 700-plus homes of service members during the housing crash.

DHS freed over 2,000 immigrants since February (Sacramento Bee) 

March 2, 2013--The Homeland Security Department released from its jails more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation in recent weeks due to looming budget cuts and planned to release 3,000 more during March, The Associated Press has learned.

The newly disclosed figures, cited in internal budget documents reviewed by the AP, are significantly higher than the "few hundred" illegal immigrants the Obama administration acknowledged this week had been released under the budget-savings process.

Military draft registration: Goodbye to the draft board? (Christian Science Monitor) 

February 25, 2013--In the wake of the Pentagon's recent announcement that women will serve in combat roles and combat zones, the question arose: Will women need to register for the draft? That may become moot: Two lawmakers are waging a little-noticed campaign to abolish the Selective Service System, the independent federal agency that manages draft registration.

If the proposed law moves forward, no one would have to register for the draft anymore, male or female.

Democrats turn to FCC to reveal secret donors behind political ads (The Hill) 

March2, 2013--Leading House Democrats are calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use its existing authority to unveil the secret donors bankrolling political TV ads.

The Federal Election Commission is the agency that handles election regulations and disclosures, but the lawmakers say the FCC already has the power to require outside groups, like super-PACs, to reveal who is paying for the pricey, often negative ad campaigns that blanket the airwaves ahead of elections.

Birds May Use 'Sound Maps' To Navigate Huge Distances (NPR)

February 1, 2013--Now the curious case of the homing pigeon and the mystery of just how they do what they do: navigate over huge distances to find their way home. We know they use the sun and the Earth's magnetic field. Well, Jonathan Hagstrum of the U.S. Geological Survey believes the birds also use sound maps. His study was recently published in the Journal of Experimental biology. And he joins us now to explain how he thinks this works. Welcome to the program. 

INTERNATIONAL 

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez dies (CNN) 

March 5, 2013--A deeply divided Venezuela is mourning its late leader and preparing to pick a new president to replace him.

Venezuelan officials called for peace and unity after President Hugo Chavez's death on Tuesday, emphasizing in state television broadcasts that all branches of the government and the military were standing together.

Mexican president warns party over graft: No one is untouchable (Reuters) 

March 3, 2013--Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Sunday sounded a warning shot to his ruling party over corruption, saying no one is above the law as he tries to tackle the graft that has blighted its reputation in the past.

Speaking just days after the head of Mexico's powerful teachers' union was arrested on charges of embezzling around $200 million, Pena Nieto vowed a new era of transparency at a congress attended by some 4,200 members of his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

The Holocaust just got more shocking (New York Times) 

March 3, 2013--THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.

What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.

Afghan Government Bans Some American Forces For Links To Killings And Torture (NPR)

February 25, 2013--Afghanistan's president is demanding that American Special Forces, Green Berets, withdraw from a key province. It's located near the capital, Kabul. Hamid Karzai says the Special Forces are linked to allegations of kidnapping, killing and torture. What actually happened, however, is not clear. And to try to make sense of this, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.

And, Tom, obviously, a complicated story, trying to get to the bottom of it. So what exactly is the allegation, and were there atrocities committed?

In Depressed Spain, ATMs That Dispense Free Cash (NPR) 

February 28, 2013--Fancy some free cash? Don't even bother to insert your ATM card.

People in Spain thought it was a joke — or a fraud — when a video popped up on YouTube showing what looks like a normal ATM, offering 100 euros ($131) for free — without a bank card. It seemed too good to be true.

There was one catch: Recipients had to promise to share the money. A digital menu on the machine suggests possible uses, such as "hire a storyteller for the kids in your neighborhood" or "buy diapers for a pregnant woman."

Assad forces take Aleppo village, reopening supply line (Reuters)

March 1, 2013--Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces seized a village southeast of the city of Aleppo on Friday, reopening a supply line to the country's biggest city where they have been battling rebels for eight months, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the capture of Tel Shghaib marked the last step to creating a land supply route north into Aleppo from Hama province, crucial for Assad's forces who have lost control of part of the main north-south highway.

Volcanic eruptions might lessen greenhouse effects (CS Monitor) 

Volcanic eruptions, even small and moderate ones, might counter some of the effects of global warming, new research suggests.

The planet didn't heat up as much as scientists expected it to from 2000 to 2010 (though it was still the warmest decade on record), and a new study finds that chemical compounds spewed during modest eruptions around the globe could be behind the trend.

When sulfur dioxide emitted by a volcano rises up to the stratospheric aerosol layer of the atmosphere, it undergoes chemical reactions, forming particles that reflect sunlight back into space instead of letting it get to the surface of the planet. This has a cooling effect on Earth that can help mitigate the impacts of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses.

HEALTH/SCIENCE 

MIT Invents A Machine That Can Look At Batman's Face And See His Heart Beating (NPR – fascinating video) 

February 28, 2013--My pal Erik Olsen at The New York Times has just described an extraordinary new way to look at people. You point a camera at someone, record the image and then, using an "amplifier," you can discover things you've never seen before.

Originally designed to look (but not touch) brand new babies, to monitor their breathing, Professor William Freeman's team at MIT realized their "Eulerian Video Magnification" technique can measure small color changes and very slight movements on the surface of a body to measure what's going on inside. You can point this machine at someone trapped in building collapse and figure out if he's still breathing. You can watch a Batman movie and see actor Christian Bale's heart beating!

Doctors report first cure of HIV in a child (USA Today)

March 4, 2013--For the first time, doctors are reporting that they have cured a child of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The landmark finding will help scientists better understand the nature of HIV, doctors say, and could potentially help countless HIV-positive babies in developing countries. 

New drug doubles risk of pancreatitis (Ivanhoe Newswire)

February 27, 2013--People who take the newest class of diabetes drugs to control blood sugar are twice as likely as those on other forms of sugar-control medication to be hospitalized with pancreatitis.

Scientists say, the new drugs, glucagon-like peptide-1-based therapies (GLP-1), are associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for acute pancreatitis. The agents sitagliptin and exenatide, generic names for the drugs sold under the brand names Januvia and Byetta, appear to contribute to the formation of lesions in the pancreas and the proliferation of ducts in the organ, resulting in wellsprings of inflammation.